He said that due to this gazette notification, the Customs does not have the power to inspect the waste being exported to Sri Lanka from other countries.
He said let alone investigations, the customs does not have the authority to even check these containers.
He made this comment addressing a media briefing regarding the 102 containers of waste that was imported to the country.
He said in order to protect our environment, the 2013 gazette no. 1818-30 should be annulled and he requested Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera to take measures to ban waste being imported to the country.
He also urged the Finance Minister and officials to reveal the names of those behind the import of these container loads of waste.
“The Customs Ordinance, Import and Export Control Act and, the Exchange Control Act have been exempted by the Gazette notification No. 1818-30 of 2013. In terms of the Gazette, no investigation can be carried out into illegal imports,” he pointed out.
The Customs union leader further said it had been found that garbage importation has been carried out since 2013. The current imported consignment has been described for import purposes as hospital waste, plants and animal body parts, restaurant junk, used mattresses, bed sheets and other items. The 102 garbage containers are now lying in the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT). He said another 122 containers had been cleared from customs and taken away.
He said that the garbage of those containers had been dumped in a hilly area situated in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone.
Asked what measures are to be taken to ban these imports and for action against importers, he said that Sri Lanka has already signed the international conventions which banned importing of harmful garbage. According to these conventions, it is prohibited to import any form of junk for any reason.
Meanwhile, The Customs Union Chairman Anton Priyashantha said Sri Lanka cannot be allowed to become a ‘Meethotamulla’ for the whole world to dump their garbage here.
He pointed out that it is a serious danger to the country that none of state bodies that oversee imports can inquire into such harmful garbage imports, adding that such garbage could contain nuclear waste or waste containing deadly germs.